Archive for category Dairy
This time last year I stumbled upon a challenge that really appealed to me. It was called the Urban Farm Challenge, a monthly blog challenge encouraging a simpler lifestyle relying more on local, organic (if possible) foods and making and growing your own food, even for city dwellers. It was to be a year of learning useful house-holding skills. I have always lived in cities but love the idea of country life and over the years have dabbled in growing my own vegetables and canning my own jams and chutneys, often from that home-grown produce! This challenge was just a step further, there was cheese making, foraging, making herbal teas and tinctures. I just loved the idea and got the book for my birthday, I love this book! Its co written by Anette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols, two of the most inspiring people! Both have families and are trying to live without supermarkets and the book is full of tips for gardening, composting, growing, preserving, city farming. There is advice on sourcing your own food suppliers, grinding your own grains. I loved this challenge and took part in most of the challenges although I must admit I was a bit of a fair weather partaker and did less of the winter challenges. Here is my round-up of my Urban Farm Challenge over the last year.
February: The challenge was soil improvement. I was late to the challenge but quickly ordered a composting bin with hope of making my own compost. Unfortunately the bin that arrived was huge, to big for my city garden so I donated it to a friend with an allotment and looked to the next challenge!
March: The challenge was home dairy, this was the challenge that I was most looking forward to! The idea of making my own cheese was completely new to me but I dove in and made lemon cheese, ricotta and mozzarella. I have made my own cheese several more times throughout the year and am inspired to try more, I’ve found this to be an area that I really want to explore!
April: The challenge was gardening and sowing your own seeds. Easy for me as I grow some type of vegetable each year. My Mother in law has an allotment and takes care of the plants for me, it’s an unbelievably lucky outcome for me and I’m so grateful to her for this! Among the regular vegetables I grow I also tried some different things as part of one of the challenges. I managed to seek out collard greens, not successful at all in the cool, wet summer we had,the snails got to the only tiny plant that survived! I also planted endive (chicory) another fail! The black futsu and Naples long pumpkins were much more successful as were the yellow courgettes (zucchini).
May: The challenge for May was foraging, not as easy as I thought! I’m too scared to try to find mushrooms on my own but I did make a dandelion salad foraged from my garden, I will admit that dandelion leaves are not the best thing I ever tasted but I am glad I tried!
June: This month the challenge was botanicals and all about making your own tinctures, balms and herbal infusions. I made chive blossom vinegar which I look forward to making again. I really wanted to try to make my own lotions but am a little ashamed to admit that I still have not tried this, maybe that will be one of this years “to try’s”.
July: Seed saving and looking forward to winter was the challenge this month, I did not take part as nothing was in flower yet. Due to the awful weather we had last summer everything was behind.
August: It was preserving this month, something I do each summer anyway. Small batch canning, cold storage, fermentation were all available to try using summers bounty. I always make jams, jellies and chutneys and last year was no different. Here is a selection of what I made pickled courgettes, peach pie preserves (so good!) and I tried fermentation with cucumber kimchi.
September: It was all about bartering this month, and swapping ones goods for those of another. One of the possible challenges was to hold a food swap, I love the idea of this and maybe one day I will try to arrange one, I just need to find enough fellow canners and growers! I don’t mean to go on about the awful summer we had last year but due to this I found I didn’t have an abundance of anything! I did manage one swap with a friend that had a bucket of plums for which I swapped some very large squash.
October: Protein was the theme this month, and we were free to choose our own challenges from hunting to growing your own beans. Time escaped me this month and I didn’t get around to taking part.
November: The challenge this month was about grains, using whole grains and even brewing with grain mash! This was a crazy month and despite my best intentions once again I missed this one, although using whole grains is something I try to do anyway.
December: This month handcrafted holidays was our task. With the recession this is something I have been seeing more and more of and I love the idea of this. I made my own vanilla and lemon salt to give as gifts. One of the gifts I had most fun with was to make up a basket and fill it with jam, chutney, lemon salt and vanilla I had made. This was a very successful, my friend loved her gift!
January: This was the wrap up month, but it was extended to February which is why I’m doing it now.
I had a great time with this challenge, I loved reading the book and trying new things. One day I hope to have a house with a little land where I can fulfill my Little House on The Prairie lifestyle dream! For now I will carry on enjoying some of the skills this challenge has taught me and hopefully pick up some more. Many thanks to Annette for organizing this and all the hard work she put into it, I had a blast!
Vanessa Kimbell recently organised another of her spectacular Christmas gift swaps where everyone takes along a homemade food gift and swaps it for a goodie someone else had made. Although I was unfortunately unable to attend. I thought Id share here what Id intended to take along. The theme was chocolate so I’m sure you can appreciate how long it took me to decide what to make. I finally decided Id make chocolate bark, which isn’t commonly seen here. I’m sure people will soon catch on, it’s incredibly easy to make and there are so many options, it is simply melted chocolate topped with your choice of fruit, nuts, biscuits or sweets and makes a lovely treat or gift.
Choosing the topping for my chocolate bark was easy. Id recently seen the most beautiful sugared cranberries in this post by my twitter friend, Barb of Creative Culinary. They are so incredibly festive. Id known as soon as I saw then that I would soon be making them! I thought they would make a lovely sparkly topping to some chocolate bark. I chose pistachios as another topping as I wanted a nut and thought the green of the pistachio would add a further festive touch to my bark!
As the chocolate is the main ingredient use the best quality chocolate you can, it really is worth the extra money, no point if it looks nice but doesn’t taste it! Barb’s recipe calls for sanding sugar, I’ve not come across that here but demerara sugar worked fine for me. This recipe isn’t for a huge amount but if you wanted more it could be doubled.
Vanessa is also accepting virtual entries to her gift swap so I am linking this up with her Lets make Christmas 2012
Sugared Cranberry and Pistachio Chocolate Bark
- 100 grams best quality milk chocolate
- 100 grams best quality dark chocolate
- 75 grams shelled pistachios
For the Sugared Cranberries (I made half of this recipe from Creative Culinary)
- 125 ml water
- 150 grams fresh cranberries
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- 75 grams demerara sugar
- 75 grams granulated sugar
To make the sugared cranberries see here. You could use dried cranberries instead but the sweet/tart burst from the sugared cranberries is so good.
- If you are making the sugared cranberries do this first so they have time to harden.
- Roast the pistachios on a baking sheet for around 10 minutes on 200 c, 400 f, gas 6. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Once the toppings are ready begin by cutting a piece of baking paper to the size of a baking sheet. Set the paper aside and put the baking sheet in the freezer, it doesn’t have to be for long if you pop it in before you start it will be cool enough by the time the chocolate is melted.
- Melt both chocolates together. I used a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until completely melted
- Get the baking sheet from the freezer, put the ready cut baking paper onto the sheet and pour the melted chocolate straight onto the paper, spread the chocolate out into an even layer.
- Scatter the cranberries and pistachio nuts evenly over the chocolate layer.Put in the fridge to cool and harden which will take around 30 minutes.
- When the chocolate is hard break into pieces. I like uneven shards of bark so just snapped it randomly. If you prefer a more orderly appearance to your bark slice with a knife.
- Generally chocolate bark is stored in the fridge but the sugar on the sugared cranberries will melt if kept in the fridge so this bark really needs to be enjoyed fairly quickly after making, which is no problem as its so good!
I love ice cream. Seriously love it, one of the first things I want to do when I go to Vermont is to visit Ben and Jerry! As a child my Mother used to take us on her weekly food shop and it would always end with a visit to Save-on where they served Baskin Robbins ice cream and its 31 different flavours! My child self made it a mission to try those 31 flavours and as the weeks went by I worked my way through the menu, occasionally missing a new flavour in order to have Rocky Road again!
I’ve recently tried making my own ice-cream, I have yet to buy an ice-cream maker partly because I couldn’t be trusted not to have ice-cream for all 3 meals if it were readily available! Also there is that issue of too many kitchen gadgets, nothing makes it into my kitchen nowadays unless I’m certain I’m going to use it regularly! So at the moment I need recipes that do not require ice cream makers.
When I came across this recipe for Pina Colada ice-cream on page 180-181 of Nigella Lawson’s book Kitchen I had to make it as it requires no churning and it could not be more deliciously summery! Karen at Lavender and Lovage is hosting this months Forever Nigella, the challenge organized by Sarah to make a Nigella Lawson recipe within a monthly theme and blog about it. This months theme is “Fridge Raid Snacks” I could definitely be found raiding this ice-cream, although sans silky robe!
I made a few changes to the recipe. I did not include Malibu, I did not want to buy a whole bottle for the sake of a few mls and it’s probably no surprise that as such an ice-cream lover I am a big kid and therefore prefer ice cream to alcohol! I could not find coconut flavouring anywhere so used a little creamed coconut instead. Finally I did not add the coconut at the end as I wanted to share this with my husband and he is not a huge coconut fan, as it was he found this ice cream too “coconutty” for his taste so unfortunately (wink wink!) I had to eat it myself!
Whats your favourite ice cream flavour?
Pina Colada Ice Cream
- 150 mls (5 0z) pineapple juice
- 30 grams (1 oz) creamed coconut, mixed with a little boiled water to melt
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 100 gram (3.5 oz) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
- 500 ml (16 fl oz) double cream (heavy cream)
Made using this recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen
There is a part of me that would love to live on land and be near self-sufficient. Little House on the Prairie was one of my favourite tv programs growing up and I adored the books! Having always lived in cities, even as a child I loved the idea of space and growing your own food, like in Little House on the Prairie. The nearest I got to churning butter with my mother like Laura Ingalls did with hers was whipping cream with the hand-held whisk (you know the one where you turned the handle?) I remember thinking ” if I keep whipping will I get butter?” of course my hands always got too tired and my child’s mind wandered. I still havent made my own butter, watch this space!
When I saw the Urban Farm Challenge on the Sustainable Eats blog my interest was instant! It’s a year-long challenge to help eat healthier, local food. This is something that has been on my mind for a long time and is already part of my life but there is always more to learn. I signed up right away only to fail the first task, that was to improve your soil. I did order a free compost bin from the council, free! People if you have big enough gardens see if your local council give free compost bins! The bin they delivered was huge, too big for my garden so that was that! The home dairy task for March was one I was most looking forward to, making cheese.
The lovely Andrew from Eating Rules set a challenge with a recipe for Lemon cheese. It could not be easier! 3 ingredients, 4 if you want to add herbs. Warm the milk, add the lemon juice, wait, strain, cheese! I have made this twice now it’s so good. The first time I did not have a thermometer so don’t worry if you don’t have one as it still works. Just heat the milk until almost boiling point when bubbles are all around the edge of the pan. The 2nd time I did use a thermometer and was pleased to see that when I judged the milk to be almost boiling pretty much matched the 175F temperature the recipe states. This really is easy and satisfying. The cheese produced is not overly lemony, its creamy and perfect for matching up with stronger flavours like chutney, tomatoes. The best thing is no unwanted added ingredients, choose the best quality milk you can and you have something pure and simple that you made yourself. What could be better?